Union opens tomorrow, and I’ve lost my lucky stone
I am opening Union tonight and I’ve lost my stone. I lost it a while ago, sometime in the middle of preparing the restaurant. It was a half stone, which is why I kept it. I figured my grandfather had the other half. We were the same age when I found it—22. He flew those big Lancaster bombers in the war. He didn’t have a co-pilot, so he had to pee in a can because he couldn’t leave the controls. His name was Jack Gillies.
I found the stone at his grave, in a cemetery full of Canadians, in Harogate, England—my cousin and I drove out there when we were travelling. It was in the earth and leaves, with its smooth oval top poking out. When I picked it up there was just the half. It was shaped like a turtle’s shell. It was brown and smooth, with slight ridges on the flat side. We slept in the car that night, in a field, and woke up with a cop taping on our window. We ate an extra breakfast for our grandfather, like he was sitting at the table with us. I carried the stone for 12 years. It was my lucky charm.
I’ve been trying to make myself feel better by saying that it was time for the stone to go. I try to convince myself that I don’t need it anymore, but I know I do. I feel ordinary without it. I feel vulnerable. I didn’t need money or keys when I had that stone in my pocket. I didn’t need anything. It was pure faith. It was a kind of reminder to go for it and not to hide because good things will happen when you put yourself out there. It’s what took me overseas and brought me back home. I want to do something special, or at least try to, without fear of what could happen.
So I am determined to take all the dirt, crap and pain that came with building this restaurant for the past year and make something real, honest, good and clean. A friend of mine said to me a while back, when things were going really badly, that what I need is a soft place to land. I hope that is what Union will become: a soft place to land; a good warm place to refuel and be together.
Union, 72 Ossington Ave., opens tonight.
13 thoughts on “Union opens tomorrow, and I’ve lost my lucky stone”
Way to go Tao. We are all thinking of you tonight. Congratulations, you have done it. Let the food and drinks begin. Can’t wait to come for a meal. Don’t worry about losing your stone. Your Grampa will be with you in spirit tonight on you opening.
May your flakiness not bankrupt you. cheers!
You are right – it was time for the stone to go. You really don’t need it anymore – all you need is Teo.
love ya, dude.
Oh, and P.S.
Believing in magic IS NOT flaky. NOT believing is tragic.
Well done. It’s tough opening a restaurant. I’ve done it twice, and it’s never easy. And welcome to the neighbourhood!
With almost a year of this blog with mostly posts about food philosophy rather that the challenges of opening a restaurant, we have learnt precious little. Why the long delay? Permits? Contractors? Any advice to others or is it just magic?
I feel sorry for you but you should’ve known that this city don’t like people to succeed…too bad
will come and visit hope your fries aren’t 7 or 8 and ur mineral water 8 or 9
Looking forward to it, congrats!
I’ve been watching this place being built down the street from me for over a year, and reading this blog with interest. It’s a shame that my dinner last night was one of the most disappointing meals that I’ve ever had.
So much hype and so much excitement may have caused some opening stress, to be sure, and I’m not the kind of guy who expects new servers to be perfect (they were very nice) but the food at Union was mediocre at best. I won’t be back for a while, unless it’s just for a glass of wine and app at the bar.
I stopped into Union a few weeks ago one friday night when I was strolling along Ossington- it looked interesting and I just wanted a look – it was after last call and I asked for a glass of water at the bar. The hostess/bartender (with a kiwi or aussie accent) told me to “go back to the bar where you’ve been drinking and get water there”. How inexplicably rude- especially for a new business in the neighbourhood. I dearly hope Union fails and they send this mannerless Kiwi/Aussie a-hole back to the outback.
What a beautiful story Teo. It reminded me of the ‘stone letter’ from that Japanese movie ’Departures’. Maybe, in this case, loosing a stone is just a sign of a new beginning. Worry not, strength is within you, and so are the memories, the love and the meaningful connections that tie you to the stone.
I don’t think I could open myself so publicly, but it’s been lovely to read your thoughts and what you felt then… I wonder how you feel now.
I came late to your process, so I missed the struggle and just recently have gotten to try your beautiful food. It’s like a perfect Sunday afternoon, simple and unpretentious but elegant … real. Toronto lacks that honesty; it’s a rare quality.
I like your food, your place and your thoughts…Definitely ‘a soft place to land’
incredible feeling in this restaurant, feels like you’re at home. service and food was great, simple and delicious. minimalistic menu = fresh food.
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